The Judge splatters justice in “Dredd”

Nathan Fisher

Although sticking with three-dimensional viewing again this week, I decided to shake up the movie genres and traded last week’s bubbles of “Finding Nemo” joyfully popping off the screen for the major blood and guts splattering on at least the first three rows of the theater watching “Dredd.” “Dredd” was almost 100 minutes of blood, violence, drugs, slow-motion deaths, guns, bombs and then more blood. And I enjoyed this futuristic thriller.

“Dredd,” based on a British comic book series, is set in Mega City One, a post-nuclear wasteland of a city that spans from Boston to Washington, D.C., where 800 million people live. The “city” consists of mega-blocks of 200-story high-rises housing thousands of people living in a world of drugs, gangs and chaos. The only people fighting for law and justice are the “Judges,” men and women from the Hall of Justice who are the judges, the jury and the executioners all rolled into one. Judges do not hesitate to pull the trigger and deliver the death sentence.

Dredd (Karl Urban) is one of these bloody “police” officers; his reputation spans the city, and we certainly see how good he is at his job. Dredd gets paired with Anderson (Olivia Thirlby), a rookie officer who can read people’s thoughts. Surprisingly, Anderson––the psychic mutant––is the most normal person in the movie!

When responding to a triple homicide, i.e. three people being skinned alive and thrown off the top floor of the mega-block high-rise quaintly called “Peach Trees,” Dredd and Anderson stumble upon the center of a drug cartel run by Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Ma-Ma, a scarred ex-prostitute, manufactures and supplies Slo-Mo, a drug that slows the user’s brain down to one percent of its normal speed.  Slo-Mo provides outstanding visual effects including very long bullet-entering-body or body-falling-hundreds-of-stories-and-hitting-the-ground death sequences. To kill Dredd and Anderson, Ma-Ma shuts down the high-rise, leaving no escape and no place to hide from the thousands of Peach Trees denizens trying to kill the two Judges.

This story sounds totally corny, but I was enthralled by Dredd’s Clint Eastwood personality crossed with a Christian Bale Batman voice. Urban, no longer playing Dr. McCoy (Bones) of “Star Trek,” seems to have a permanent frown on his face, donning a helmet that covers everything but his upper lip and chin. A true almost-faceless killing machine, Dredd delivers some hysterical one-liners!

“Dredd” is not for the faint of heart––in fact, if you are squeamish at all, this is not the movie for you. That being said, the 3-D slow-motion action is awesome!  “Dredd” is a sarcastic and violent thriller that made me laugh. As Dredd says, just remember, “Ma-Ma’s not the law. I’m the law.” Justice of the future? Hope not!